Declan Walsh pit his haun through a metal spike theday. It went right intae his palm and oot the ither side. It wis absolutely boggin but kindae amazin at the same time cause ah’ve never seen sumhin sae violent afore. No in real life onywiy. Ah’ve glisked really gory stuff in the 18-ratit action movies ma da watches. Wan time last year ah goat up tae pee aroon midnicht and saw flickerin telly-licht comin fae the livin room. Ah keeked through the gap in the door tae see Arnold Schwarzenegger grab a random bystauner oan an escalator and use him as a human shield. The poor guy goat totally shreddit by bullets. Ah hud nichtmares aboot it fur weeks, but ah’m ower it noo. Declan’s injury wis almaist as gory as that Arnie filum, believe it or no.

We wur playin fitba in the school playgroun at mornin playtime, that’s how it startit. Ma aulder brither tells me ah need tae stoap cawin it “playtime” afore ah go up tae the big school.

‘We caw it “break” or “lunch”, naebdy says “playtime” onymair. No unless they want slagged rotten!’

Onywiy, it wis playtime — sorry, break — and Declan Walsh wis in goals, while the rest ae us barrelled efter the baw like wildebeest. Ah’ve tried tellin fowk they shid play in a proper position, like midfield or whitever, insteid ae jist baw-chasin aw the time. But naebdy listens tae me, even though wur ayewis usin ma baw! If evdy else cherges aboot like dafties, it means ah huv tae dae that anaw. It’s pure annoyin, ah hope when ah go up tae the big school ah’ll get tae play in an actual guid team.

Right, sae, whur wis ah? Aye, see oor playgroun, right? It’s surroondit by these black railins. Thur auld, really auld. Ye can tear aff big strips ae thur paint as if it’s wawpaper, revealin aw this crumbly broony-reid rust unnerneath. In the cauld weather ah like tae scrape awa at the rust, coatin ma gloved finghers in dust. It’s deid satisfyin fur sum reason. It looks a bit like dried blood. But here, the main hing ah shid tell ye is that every wan ae these auld rusty railins is tapped wae a nasty-lookin spike, okay?

Noo, Declan, oor goalie, is staunin in front ae these railins and we’d marked oot his goals wae jaikets and bags. So, Robert Broon’s goat the baw, evdy else is chasin efter him, and then, in comes Johnny Smyth, right? He sticks in a foot jist as Broonie’s aboot tae blooter it. The baw takes a mad deflection and sclaffs heich intae the air. It’s gaun wiy aff tairget — thur’s nae chance it’s gonnae fash Declan in goals — but it is in serious danger ae gaun clear ower the railins and intae the park ahint.

That wid be bad news. Game ower, fur the day at least. We’d ainlie be able tae get the baw efter school and maybe sum creep wid’ve nicked it by then. But even worse, it seemed like the baw might end up hittin wan ae they spike railins. It wis defo travellin oan that kindae loopin airc, hingin in the air fur whit felt like ages. When a baw comes doon oantae wan ae they spikes, ye micht get lucky and it’ll boonce right aff withoot a mark oan it. But if luck isnae oan yer side, it’ll be pierced right through ooter leather and inner rubber, sinkin doon the spike wae a gentle hiss. Whenever that happent, ah ayewis thoat the baw looked like a severed heid oan a stake. Pap oan a fake beard and it’d be the spittin image ae William Wallace’s napper oan London Bridge. History’s ma fave subject by a mile, it’s fu ae horror stories like that.

So, the baw’s up in the air, right? It’s either wheechin ower the railin or it’s gonnae land oan a spike. Since it wis ma baw and ah dinnae want either hing tae happen, ah shout ower tae Declan as if ma hale life dependit oan it: ‘HERE, DECLAN! STOAP IT GAUN OWER, WILL YE?!’

Declan’s been awa in a wee dwam, but he jerks his heid up when he hears ma shout. He rushes oot his goals, een lockin oantae the baw, trackin its flicht. He readies himsel tae catch it or at least paw it awa fae the railin. Declan’s a decent keeper, it shid be nae boather fur him really. A “routine save” as the commentators ayewis say. Aw een are oan him. This is his moment tae be a hero.

He jumps — too late —and flaps his airms, misjudgin the distance between his haun, the baw, and the railin. The baw draps intae the park, skitin alang the grass, while Declan’s right haun comes doon haird oantae wan ae they rusty railin spikes. In a filum, there’d be a squelch soond-effect, but it’s mair like a dry thunk.

‘Urgh,’ goes Declan, the kind ae noise ye’d make if ye’d trod in dug shite, no if yer haun has jist been impaled. He stauns there gawkin at his skewered haun, prolly no able tae get his heid roon whit he wis seein. It’s Broonie who screams first and that snaps Declan oot his daze.

‘Aw no,’ he says, almaist a whisper. He pulls his haun up and awa, leavin behint a trail ae red gristle and grime oan the spike. He gowps at the raggit hole punched through his palm, a look ae wonder oan his face, but then the pain kicks in and it’s aw greetin, bokin, and skreichin fae then oan.

Ah feel deid guilty aboot whit happent. It’s ma fault fur shoutin at him tae stop the baw gaun ower. Ah didnae even help efter it either: Smyth wis quick aff the mark tae fetch a teacher, and ither boys like Harry and Chris wur the first tae shuffle ower tae gie Declan an awkward wee pat oan the shooder. If ah’d done either, maybe ah wid’ve picked up a few guid-boy points, but ah jist stood there, amazed that sumhin like this could happen at ma school, durin playtime nae less.

But ah’ve jist realised there is wan smaw hing ah can dae tae make sure the hole in Declan’s haun isnae fur nothin.

The bell rings at hauf three and ah bolt oot the door as fast as ah can, ignorin ma teacher’s complaints. Ah dinnae want onywan else tae see whur ah’m gaun. Ah sprint through the school gates, turn the corner intae the park, shoot by the swingset and roon pavillion, the black iron railins blurrin as ah run. And there it is, jist whur it landit.

Ma baw.

Efter aw, ah cannae jist leave it lyin there fur sum weirdo tae nab, can ah?



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